Thailand’s Transport Ministry hopes appeal against Hopewell case will tip the scale

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Thailand’s Transport Ministry hopes appeal against Hopewell case will tip the scale

By The Nation

The Transport Ministry has called on the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to file an appeal on the Hopewell case before Friday (September 20), with the hope of repeating the Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT)’s victory in a similar case 18 years ago.

Pisak Jitwiriyawasin, deputy permanent secretary of Transport Ministry and chair of the Hopewell case committee, said his panel has been working with the OAG to gather additional evidence and is planning to file an appeal with the Central Administrative Court by September 20.

“The OAG will handle the appeal process based on the evidence we have gathered,” he said. “However, it’s still too early to assume we will win this case. It all depends on judicial discretion.”

A source said the ministry expects OAG to file the appeal by Wednesday (September 18), because September 19 will mark 180 days from the date the court set for the payment of compensation, when a 7.5 per cent interest rate will begin being added on to the total amount to be paid.

Pisak also said his committee had used the Burapha Withi Expressway case as a reference for the Hopewell case.

“Back in 2001, EXAT was sued for Bt8 billion in damages by a foreign partner over the construction of Burapha Withi Expressway,” he said.

However, EXAT refused to pay and decided to investigate the qualifications of the arbitration committee, leading to the discovery of officials’ negligence and corruption, which resulted in the court dismissing the previous ruling of getting EXAT to pay for damages.

Pisak said his committee was referring to the EXAT case because there’s something suspicious about the Hopewell case.

“Something’s not quite right with the contract, which is only eight pages long even though it was a huge project,” he said. “If we can show the court that there were signs of officials’ negligence or corruption, then it could easily tip the scale in our favour.”